#durhamminersgala 2017 favourite snaps

The Durham Miner’s Gala is one of my favourite days of the year. I have been attending most of them for around 13 years. I love the brass band music, the colourful banners and the history of the event. This year I decided to take a camera and try to capture some of the atmosphere. Here are my favourite personal pictures from the day.

“Gala Special”

This was one of the only photos I took that I feel captures what I was trying to achieve. I think it demonstrates the spirit of the Gala. Many people attend to enjoy a drink. I like the juxtaposition of the quiet corner and the busy crowd in the background.

“Tursdale Mechanics”


This was one of the oldest banners I saw. Even though Tursdale is a tiny hamlet it still warrants it’s own banner. Many of the banner themes focus on nationalisation or key political figures. I like that this one focuses on some of the gritty realities of mine working.

“Abandoned Instruments”


Once the bands have played to the politicians and marched to the show ground they often relax for a while. If you look closely you can see the Socialist paper laid on the central tuba. As I walked away after taking this photo a photographer with a better camera than mine got right up close to the instruments to take a photograph. I tried to resist the temptation to edit my photos to make them look “better”. When I undertake my visual research I don’t want my participants to feel the pressure to produce “acceptable” images.




I couldn’t decide which one I liked better out of these two photos. When the bands arrive at the showground the banners are placed on ‘display’ around the field. In the first you can see a banner in it’s protective cover in the foreground with a colourful banner behind it. The covers are normally only used in the rain so this indicates it is probably an older banner. The second shows four very colourful banners.

“Take our photograph”


As I walked around the showground with my camera around my neck, the two men in the centre of this photograph said to me “You can’t have a camera and not take our photograph!”. Of course I obliged. I like how even the people around them appear pleased to pose for the photograph. They joked to me that I had left my lens cap on! I was in the same area for a few minutes afterwards and they continued to ask people to take their photograph.

“Pink Balloon”


My youngest daughter wanted a balloon at the showground and this is my oldest daughter holding it as we walked home. One of the stories I have been telling people about the Gala is how the balloon made us many “friends” as it blew around in the strong wind at the showground and was often bumping into people.

“In Loving Memory”

IMGP4428 One of our annual rituals is to stop at a playground on the way home. Many old gravestones which have been moved or relocated are laid against the wall opposite the playground. Reading the gravestones is quite touching as whole families are wiped out by disease, including extremely young children. The children’s graves we used to see in previous years are now completely overgrown by bushes. This is one the larger ones that is still exposed and sits under a tree against the wall.


From Political Economy to the Job Centre

Last week I attended the Critical Management Studies conference, hosted by Edge Hill University in the faded grandeur of the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. It was my second time visiting the city and also my second academic conference. Although my stream had the rather intimidating title of Political economy, value and valuation: Advancing contemporary critiques of capitalism and exploring alternatives, it was really useful not only to get feedback on my own paper, but also to find out about current research in this field.

Continue reading “From Political Economy to the Job Centre”

The Art of Seeing

Some time ago I read a neuroscience book that suggested a technique for seeing issues from another person’s perspective. The process, accompanied by an explanatory diagram, involved imagining yourself physically occupying the same space as that person, as well as subsequently picturing yourself as an impartial observer. This was supposed to occur as you were interacting with said other person, which the book reassured would become easier with practice. Despite the impossibility, in my opinion, of accompanying all these difficult tasks at once, it completely ignores the important cues that people give regarding their potential feelings and behaviour, both verbally and physically. Continue reading “The Art of Seeing”

Place Based Leadership

“The social world is accumulated history” (Bourdieu, 1986)

“The social space we occupy has been historically generated.” (Skeggs, 1997)

One of the best parts of research is when you stumble across one or two pieces of information that enable your current thinking to ‘fall into place’, even if this is only temporary. That was the feeling I got when yesterday when I came across these two quotes in quick succession. They’re from two of the theorists that I see as being central to my thesis. When this happens, it can be interesting to consider the process of crystallisation behind such moment of clarity.  Continue reading “Place Based Leadership”

My Own Reflection

I’m currently reading Roald Dahl’s Matilda with my middle daughter. I smile, not just at the funny parts, but when Matilda is curled up with her nose in a book while the rest of the family is watching TV. Certainly my parents were not like Matilda’s, but I do remember them making objections to me doing the same, particularly in social situations. Continue reading “My Own Reflection”

Woman gets top job

The news that Theresa May has been appointed leader of the Conservative Party, and tomorrow will Prime Minister, brought back to my mind some research I came across while developing my new module. She is adamant she will make a success of Brexit; that which has been called the poisoned chalice, and long “May” she succeed (the pun headline writers will surely be having a field day after Cameron). Continue reading “Woman gets top job”